African Archaeological Review

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 135–149 | Cite as

Seasonality and seal exploitation in the southwestern Cape, South Africa

  • Curtis W. Marean


An ecological model is proposed for human responses to climatic seasonality in the later Holocene of the southwestern Cape in South Africa. This is an area where pronounced seasonality produces cyclical effects on plant, animal and human communities. The predictions of this model are that: 1. human foragers would switch from plant carbohydrates to seal fat as a winter energy source; 2. capture and butchery of seals would vary with season and seal age; 3. capture and butchery of ungulates would vary seasonally; and 4. seals would be exploited differently from ungulates throughout the year. The model is tested against faunal data from Smitswinkelbaai Cave.


Carbohydrate Energy Source Cultural Study Human Response Ecological Model 
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On propose un modèle écologique des réactions humaines à la saisonalité climatique pour l'Holocène récent dans le cap sud-ouest, Afrique du Sud. C'est une région où la saisonalité produit des effets cycliques sur les communautés végétale, animale et humaine. Les prédictions de ce modèle sont les suivantes: 1. les cueilleurs humains changeaient des féculents végétaux à la graisse de phoque comme source d'énergie en hiver; 2. la prise et la boucherie de phoques variaient avec les saisons et selon l'âge des phoques; 3. la prise et la boucherie des ongulés variaient de façon saisonnière; et 4. les phoques étaient exploités différemment des ongulés pendant toute l'année. On présente un essai préliminaire du modèle sur les données de la caverne Smitswinkelbaai.


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© Cambridge University Press 1986

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  • Curtis W. Marean

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